Dear friends, welcome to our September issue of your Business & Industry Connection. If you are like most of our friends, marketing partners and readers of BIC Magazine, we have all been preparing for another exciting football season whether it’s in the pros, college or even in our local high schools where we have children or grandchildren playing. For those who have been reading BIC for years or even decades, you know both Thomas Brinsko, my partner, and I often draw comparisons among sports, family and the workplace as it relates to being prepared, teamwork and communications. Two of my favorite tips from sports I try to use in both my personal and professional life are “be prepared” and “the best offense is a great defense!”
When it comes to competing in the workplace, it is very much like competing in sports. It is easier to be a winner when you have the best coaches and players, and it is easier to have a great company when you have the best management and staff. This really boils down to who is the best prepared and who can hire, train and retain the best folks. Safety too is absolutely critical. Losing a key player because of an injury can be devastating, and the same is true in business and industry when we lose a key person because of injury, death, retirement or because they decided to go elsewhere. Not long ago an old friend of mine and I were talking at the North Baton Rouge reunion where classmates from the 1940s through the 1970s gather to share memories. When I mentioned he had stolen my girlfriend in the ’60s, he was quick to remind me we never steal someone who is ready to leave. That was a timely sentiment as we have been working on a series of articles here at BIC addressing labor shortage topics including reducing turnover and maximizing productivity.
I want to share a few related statistics that drive home the importance of training and addressing manpower shortages for me. These may also help you elevate these pertinent topics to a higher priority. According to a recent article in “Fuel Fix,” Daniel Lummas, senior vice president of Kiewit Oil, Gas and Chemical NA in Houston, said there are about 4.5 million to 5 million skilled trade workers in the oil and gas sector in North America and this is down about a million since the mid-2000s. Lummas also shared another “scary statistic” — about half of these skilled workers will be retiring in 10 years or less. Another report from a survey conducted of upstream American energy companies by Grant Thornton LLP found 71 percent of executives expect employment to rise and 55 percent of the executives anticipate difficulty in hiring and retaining employees.
In last month’s issue of BIC, there was a great cover story about how AltairStrickland positioned themselves to prepare for the brain drain and manpower shortages years ago. This same message was delivered by Stephen Toups from Turner Industries several months ago at our BIC Alliance Industry Update in Baton Rouge when he told our attendees strong companies can always provide the top people because they believe in hiring the best people and doing their best to keep them with strong leadership and excellent training. As I mentioned earlier, it has a lot to do with being prepared.
Let’s take the example of being prepared for natural disasters like hurricanes and accidents like explosions and train derailments. While we seemed to have dodged a major hurricane so far this season, it is important to remember our worst hurricanes often occur in late August and early September, so it is still very important to be prepared and on alert at all times. Recently, BIC Alliance Vice President Jeremy Osterberger attended the industrial fire school at Texas A&M for the first time and came away with a much better understanding and appreciation of how important it is for our industrial firefighters and first responders to be well trained. I can remember vividly how much our trainers, fire fighting instructors and firefighters learned when we taught and trained along with other professionals at their facilities and at places like TEEX in College Station, Texas, the BEST Complex in Beaumont, Texas, or at LSU.
Now for what you can do about it. We suggest having a strong employee retention program in place and finding the best recruiting partner you can to help you fill C-level positions and other important administration, management, operations and sales positions. I have included a sidebar here with tips we shared recently with our own management team as well as many of the CEOs and top managers from the 30 companies that utilize BIC Recruiting. Seek out platforms like “Boots at Work,” an hourly wage recruiting tool that connects employers with veterans who fit their requirements. Attend and support industry-related career days and events like the LAGCOE Career Fair (Thurs., Oct. 24 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.).
We hope you will also find BIC to be a valuable resource for timely information on industry topics. In this issue of BIC, we have insight from Craig Morrison, president, CEO and chairman, Momentive Performance Materials Holdings LLC; Ron Stallworth Sr., plant manager, Honeywell’s UOP Baton Rouge facility; Dieter Koerner, managing partner, T.A. Cook Consultants; Tom McQueary, president, TriStar Global Energy Solutions; and Michael Stelmach, senior project specialist, Mascoat.
We also include features on safety programs and culture, fracking, the contractor/client relationship, maintenance and more.
I hope you will share the lessons and information in this issue of BIC Magazine with your friends and colleagues by passing along this copy of BIC or refer them to www.bicalliance.com to read BIC online.